The report was commissioned by the EFR, the group made up of Chairmen and Chief Executives from leading banks and insurers in Europe. It is published following the EFR's report earlier this year on the benefits of integration of financial services across Europe. Pehr Gyllenhammar is Chairman of the EFR: "If the EU and its member states fail to act rapidly and prioritise change, they will consign millions of Europeans to poverty in old age and wreck Europe's proudly and painstakingly achieved social models."
The report identifies the role that closer integration of the European pensions market can play in encouraging more private provision. Pehr Gyllenhammar continues: "The European Commission argues in favour of more private pension provision. To help bring this about, Europe's politicians must create a single market in pensions that will increase consumer choice, reduce costs, encourage take-up of private pensions and go some way to averting the pensions disaster Europe is facing."
In addition, the report identifies the benefits to free movement by European citizens that closer integration of the pensions market would bring. The patchwork of national pensions systems imposes unacceptable barriers, and often severe taxation costs, when people seek to change where they work or live.
The report's recommendations include measures to improve the taxation situation across Europe, mobility, security and transparency. Specific proposals include:
No discriminatory tax penalties on investing in or consuming pension savings in other EU Member States.
A requirement that all new EU Member States put in place a taxation system on pensions compatible with an EU-wide system.
The ability of a pension holder to change jobs, country of employment or country of residence or retirement without penalty.
No legal barrier to employees remaining in scheme membership even though they move to a different Member State, whilst still employed by the same company;
The assurance that a fund will be properly managed and that sums contributed will be safeguarded.
Full, frank and easily understood disclosure of the terms and provisions of a pension scheme or plan.
Full, timely, accurate and user-friendly statement of the present and expected future value and modalities of pension income.
Together, the report argues, these and other measures recommended in the report would bring significant benefits to individuals through greater choice, more information, reduced costs and improved portability; to member states through increased participation in private pensions and reduced dependence on state systems; and to employers through easier administration, greater flexibility, increased staff mobility and higher benefits at the same costs.
"The benefits of an integrated pensions market in Europe are clear," says Pehr Gyllenhammar. "And the initiatives that need to be taken to create a more integrated pensions market and encourage greater take-up of private pension schemes, are easily achievable. What is needed is political will and we call on politicians at European and national levels to seize the initiative now before it is too late and Europe's pension nightmare really does come true."
For further information:
Andrew Last, Zoe Schoenfeld: +44 20 8870 6777
(07720 288378/07764 612861)
The European Financial Services Round Table website contains a full copy of the report and can be found at www.efsrt.org.
This report was produced by pensions experts from within the member companies of the EFR, representing many of Europe's leading banks and insurers.
The European Financial Services Round Table was formed in 2001 to provide a strong industry voice on European policy issues relating to financial services. Its initial focus is to support the completion of the single market in financial services. Current members are:
Mr. Claude Bébéar - AXA
Dr. Rolf E. Breuer - Deutsche Bank AG
Mr. Hans Dalborg - Nordea
Mr. Gianfranco Gutty - Assicurazioni Generali SpA
Mr. Rijkman Groenink - ABN-AMRO Bank N.V.
Mr. Pehr Gyllenhammar - CGNU plc
Mr. Ewald Kist - ING Group
Sir George Mathewson - The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc
Mr. Michel Pébereau - BNP Paribas
Mr. Alessandro Profumo - UniCredito Italiano S.p.A.
Mr. Francisco González Rodriguez - BBVA
Dr. Hans-Jürgen Schinzler - Munich Re
Dr. Henning Schulte-Noelle - Allianz AG
Mr. Kees J. Storm - AEGON N.V.
Mr. Anton van Rossum - Fortis